When you boil selling down to its fundamental elements it is two things: conversations and commitments. This is as true for a complex sale as it is when you sell your teenager children on cleaning their rooms (or they sell you on why they haven’t).
Prospecting is the act of starting a conversation. It’s a conversation around the opportunity to meet someone for the first time to explore ideas, ideas that may or may not result in an opportunity to do something better together. If that conversation goes well, it ends with a commitment to explore ideas.
Discovery is a conversation about exploring needs and options. It’s about learning what might need to be improved, how those improvements might be made, and what kind of changes will be necessary. The idea of building consensus is simply the act of bringing more people into that conversation. If that conversation goes well, you move forward with a commitment to present some ideas about how you might move forward.
Presentations are really conversations about what it will be like to work together. These conversations capture all of the previous conversations and organize them into a story as to how you will move from where you are now to some better future state. Presentations are also conversations, with both sides contributing to the story. These conversations should end with a commitment to move forward together or a commitment to make and review adjustments.
Negotiations are conversations about creating and capturing value. The conversation around price is really a conversation around value, how much is being created and who gets to capture how much. Good conversations are about the value creation part, and bad conversations focus only on capture. Done well, these conversation lead to the commitment to move forward together.
To sell effectively, you have to be good at both conversations and commitments. If you like the conversation part but aren’t comfortable asking for commitments, you are going to struggle to sell well. If you like asking for commitments but don’t have too much to offer when it comes to conversations, you aren’t going to gain the commitments you need to make many deals.
What conversations do you need to have more of?
How do you ensure your conversations result in commitments?
What commitments for future conversations do you need?